Call for wider scope for abuse inquiry
A senior member of the Catholic Church has thrown his support behind a strengthening bid for a royal commission of inquiry into child abuse, but will not pledge the same from the institution as a whole.
Bill Kilgallon wants his church – and all other faith-based institutions – to be included in the Government’s inquiry into the abuse of children in state care before 1992.
The call comes as concern continues to mount that the inquiry will miss the scale of historical child abuse in New Zealand if it limits its scope to state-affiliated or owned institutions. An Australian royal commission into child abuse reported that 60 per cent of abuse happened in faith-based institutions.
‘‘If they keep going down the track of just a state institution inquiry . . . it’ll leave the majority of abuse out,’’ Liz Tonks, a supporter of male sex abuse victims, said.
Sporting clubs have also been flagged by advocates as institutions that need to be included in an inquiry. The White Paper for Vulnerable Children, released in 2012, specifically excluded volunteers for sports teams from a new process for vetting and screening people working directly with children.
Male Survivors of Sex Abuse Trust national manager Ken Clearwater said background checks were needed for anyone working with children.
Previously, the Catholic Church believed it was not its role to report abuse to police without the victim’s consent.
‘‘It’s in my position as the professional adviser to the Catholic Church that I’m saying that [a royal commission is needed]. I can’t speak for the whole church,’’ Kilgallon said.
His pledge came at the end of a conference centred on male survivors of sexual abuse in Christchurch.